WOUNDS OF WAR: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam by Herbert & Ann Pollinger Haas Hendin

WOUNDS OF WAR: The Psychological Aftermath of Combat in Vietnam

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From their work with over 100 Vietnam veterans, psychiatrist Hendin (The Age of' Sensation, Black Suicide) and sociologist Haas present a solid, balanced survey of the origins, nature, and treatment of ""posttraumatic stress disorder""--a syndrome which is not unique to the Vietnam War (the authors note the symptoms recorded in Ambrose Bierce's Tales of Soldiers and Civilians) but which is uncommonly widespread in Vietnam vets. Why? Because of ""the particular quality of combat in Vietnam"": the close, personal encounters with death and killing; the killing of women, children, and the elderly; the sudden, unexpected combat engagements; and the war's moral ambiguity. All these factors have produced unusually guilt-ridden vets--with different reactions depending upon ""the unique meanings of combat for individual veterans,"" upon their pre-war personalities. With case-histories, the authors go on to dramatize the basic symptoms of the disorder (nightmares, insomnia, reactions to noise, outbursts of anger), then to illustrate the two major behavior-patterns that develop in reaction to the disorder (paranoid, depressive). And later chapters study the interrelationship between posttraumatic stress and crime, suicide, and drug-abuse (for many, the only way to sleep without nightmares). Primarily for professionals, with some technical matter and specific guidance on ""stress-oriented psychotherapy""--but a lucid, convincing introduction for anyone interested in Viet-vet problems, free of excess generalization and opaque jargon.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1984
Publisher: Basic Books